Starring: Channing Tatum, Joe Manganiello, Matt Bomer, Adam Rodriguez, Kevin Nash, Jada Pinkett Smith, Amber Heard, Elizabeth Banks
Directed by: Gregory Jacobs
Cert: 16 Running Time: 115 mins

When Magic Mike was released in 2012, Channing Tatum’s thong busting moves kinda passed me by which means I wasn’t exactly shaking my dollar bills in the air at the news that the boys were returning, and without the now Oscar carrying Matthew McConaughey.

So I’ve come to the Magic Mike XXL experience like a shy bride-to-be on her hen night. Part excited at the prospect of being excited and part dreading it, that I’m going to be subjected to some cheesy guy in a thong, rubbing me up the wrong way. And like a hired ‘male entertainer’ (the guys’ choice of career title), they have done both. The film is sexy in small doses, courtesy of Channing Tatum and also very cheesy exposing the goofy, silly side there is to such ‘entertaining’ which left me feeling like putting my money back into my purse and looking sheepishly for the nearest exit. There is much to feast your eyes on here but for every toned ab and flexed pec there’s just a sense that a little less cheese and a bit more oomph is needed to bring them to life.

Picking up three years after the first film, Mike (Tatum) for reasons we don’t really care about decides to re-join the boys on a road trip to the annual Stripper Convention in Myrtle Beach. The boys have all plans for their futures away from the scene and are giving the business one last hip thrust before they go their separate ways. It’s difficult to say if the campness of the group is intentional (as a newbie I guess I’m missing the gist of its predecessor) but there are times when their road trip is more Priscilla-like and all they’re missing for world domination is a little drag.

Richie’s (Joe Manganiello’s) much touted scene in the store is played for comedy with the boys cheering him on at the window as he tries to make the checkout girl smile, making something that looks sexy in snippets actually seem pretty ridiculous and you wonder why she’s not calling the cops on him. It’s also very difficult to believe that a guy who looks like that has confidence issues on his ability to make a woman smile. Isn’t he a stripper?

That said the film is not without its moments. The script written by original scribe Reid Carolin feels authentic and the guys have a bromance going on that is believable and funny. Tatum steals the scenes when he gets to show off what he can do and while I’d pretty much written him off as a lunkhead he’s a great dancer and has the moves to back up his name. He also has great chemistry with Jada Pinkett Smith, an old flame he visits along the way and she brings it (as she did in TV’s Gotham) with her charisma, exuding more sexuality in her key scenes than most of the guys put together. Elizabeth Banks too makes a great cameo (though I’d have loved to hear her Pitch Perfect character critique the boys’ show) and Amber Heard makes the best of a role that is underwritten. In one of the best lines, she sarcastically says ‘Any God worth believing, sends you a guy in a thong when you’re in need’. As pick me ups go, a trip to Magic Mike XXL might be just the ticket but you’re gonna need some nachos to go with all that cheese.


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